steal a march upon (someone or something)

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steal a march upon (someone or something)

To gain an unexpected or surreptitious advantage over someone or something, as by accomplishing something before, or better than, someone else. The retail business managed to steal a march upon its competitors by signing an exclusive export agreement with Europe. John and I were both trying to win Courtney's heart, but he stole a march upon me when he managed to get tickets to see Courtney's favorite band.
See also: march, steal, upon
References in classic literature ?
And he is the best guard of a camp who is best able to steal a march upon the enemy?
Furthermore I say--and lay my saying to your heart--do not tell people when you are bringing your ship to Ithaca, but steal a march upon them, for after all this there is no trusting women.
It was the first time I had ever known Wyatt to keep from me any of his artistical secrets; but here he evidently intended to steal a march upon me, and smuggle a fine picture to New York, under my very nose; expecting me to know nothing of the matter.
He always is, d-a-amn him,' replied the client; 'and I want to steal a march upon him.
Grewgious held decidedly to the general principle, that if you could steal a march upon a brigand or a wild beast, you had better do it; and he also held decidedly to the special case, that John Jasper was a brigand and a wild beast in combination.